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freedom to think, discover, and create

TRAIL BLAZER Dave Ackerman is a Swiss Army knife of creativity


Liberalis was derived from the Latin word pertaining to freedom, generosity, and honor. These words reflect the values of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. We seek to cultivate in ourselves and our students the freedom to explore new ideas and cultures and to affirm the dignity and honor of all people.


THE DEAN By Dean Joseph P. Ward


y first 10 months as dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences have flown by because of the opportunity to work with amazing people like the ones who are profiled in this issue of Liberalis. We bring you this magazine twice a year to help you stay on top of developments in the college. I hope you will see from these stories why I am so excited about what the college is doing and the incredible potential ahead of us.

Liberalis is published biannually by the Dean’s Office of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and is distributed to alumni and friends free of charge. The publication is available online at liberalis.usu.edu

COLLEGE OF HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES Utah State University | 0700 Old Main Hill | Logan, UT 84322-0700 www.chass.usu.edu CHaSS Dean/Publisher Joseph P. Ward


Photo courtesy of Jeannie Thomas

Editor/Writer Janelle Hyatt

Graphic Designer Simon Bergholtz

Photographer Donna Barry

We want each issue of Liberalis to give you a sense of the depth and breadth of the teaching and research taking place in the college as well as an appreciation for the diversity of interests and activities of our students, faculty, and alumni. This is no easy task! One of the biggest challenges our wonderful media team of Janelle Hyatt and Simon Bergholtz faces when assembling an issue of this magazine is

choosing stories from such a wide array of possibilities. My experience with the process of assembling Liberalis has deepened my understanding of the college’s incredible dynamism. In the stories in this issue you will meet alumni in walks of life they could not have imagined as college students, faculty members pushing the boundaries of their disciplines, and students committed to growing personally and making a positive difference in society. Just as you can never step in the same stream twice, it's impossible to capture the essence of our college in one issue of Liberalis. Instead, please consider this snapshot as evidence that our college is constantly changing, revitalized each year by new students, new faculty members, and new ideas. You, the alumni and friends of the col-

lege, play a crucial role in maintaining its dynamism. When you share with us your experiences in the world after Utah State University you help us prepare current students for long-term success because your experiences influence our efforts to improve our curriculum. If you graduated from USU 20 years ago, then I suspect that you would be impressed at how our programs and courses have evolved in just that short time. We are constantly adding new areas of emphasis, and we are continually adding new courses to existing programs and interacting with students using new instructional methods and technologies. We are deeply grateful to those of you who stay in touch with us. If you have not yet had a chance to do so and would like to be engaged actively with CHaSS, then please write to me at joe.ward@usu.edu. I would love to hear from you! Letter from the Dean




Development Board

Learn all summer long at the


See back cover

Pg11 Just a click away

Philosophy professor finds Amazon a great way to float big ideas

Pg21 Bookshelf New anthology gives a fresh voice to young Vietnamese

Pg24 Where has your degree taken you?

2014 grad is one of few accepted into Russian master’s program


Back to

for museum the classics


Pg29 Branching Out Record demand for Masters of Social Work classes

Pg31 Inquiring Minds Political science’s Damon Cann looks at why we obey laws

Pg33 What's new in the departments


Pg36 Help from afar after Peruvian Floods

Dave Ackerman rarely met an idea he didn’t try. The result is a adventuresome but inspired life.

Students apply their new anthropology skills – by crowdsourcing

Pg37 CHaSS awards and honors Pg41 Museum certificate marks its 10th year


Stories tell of how this program has opened doors for grads

MSW program grows statewide pg 29


Blind since birth, Legacy Award winner always walks past the shadows


Anthro students pay it forward pg 36

ALL FOR ONE Active Citizenship: Everyone has an equal voice in this tech comm class


pg26 Table of Contents

Museum musings pg 41

Philosopher goes digital pg 11 Table of Contents


DEVELOPMENT BOARD The College of Humanities and Social Sciences welcomes two new members to the college’s Dean's Development Board. This organization of former Aggies, who are now leaders and influencers in their communities and industries, seeks to fulfill three objectives: 1. To provide students with needed scholarship funds 2. To o enhance a student’s experience by providing such opportunities as internships to apply their skills in society 3. To support students and faculty by securing funding for needed facilities. We invite you to join with the Development Board in these endeavors.

The College of Humanities and Social Science has named as its new development officer an alumnus who says the college “was the discovery of my path and purpose.” Justin Barton, a 2011 graduate in social work, brings to the position significant experience in philanthropic work. “I want to make CHaSS grow as it grew me,” he says. Before coming to USU, Barton worked in development at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake, as a private consultant, and, most recently, at Salt

Lake Community College as a development officer. He earned a master’s of social work at the University of Pennsylvania, where he focused on nonprofit management and development. In his new position, Barton will create and support fundraising strategies and activities, liaison with corporations and other institutions, and serve as steward of CHaSS donors. Barton lives in Layton with his wife and two daughters. They’re in the process of relocating to the Cache Valley.

Development Board Members

We welcome Sylvia Jones

Welcome to Jessie Richards

Jim E. Ackerman

Sylvia Jones successfully merges her expertise in finance and banking with her passion for improving education and mentoring young women.

Jessie Lynn Richards, Ph.D., teaches writing, communication, and rhetoric at the University of Utah and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. She’s a CHaSS Aggie, having earned a bachelor’s in English with an emphasis on technical and professional writing in 2004.

’75 Journalism & Communication CEO – Ascend Marketing

Nate Alder

’91 History Attorney – Christensen & Jensen LLC

Steve Barth

’91 Political Science Owner – SB Strategies

Cecelia H. Foxley

’64 English Former Utah Commissioner of Higher Education

Catherine Goodman

’90 English National marketing manager – Summit Financial Resources

Robert C. Gross

’71 Political Science Chair – CHaSS Dean’s Development Board Founder and CEO – Robert Gross & Associates

Mehdi Heravi

’63 Political Science Philanthropist and emeritus professor at University of Tennessee

Sylvia Jones

’87 Economics Assistant vice president and market relationship manager for Education Financial Services – Wells Fargo Consumer Lending Group

She works with Wells Fargo’s Consumer Lending Group, America’s second largest provider of private student loans. There, she serves as assistant vice president, market relationship manager for Education Financial Services. Her focus is to provide quality information, guidance, and support to allow customers to make informed borrowing decisions about financing a college education.

She also directs a nonprofit foundation, Fight Against Domestic Violence (www.fightagainstdomesticviolence. org). FADV seeks to provide education, awareness, outreach and financial resources to domestic violence victims and their communities.

Jones is a veteran of the financial education industry. She has held leadership positions at Citibank and Discover Student Loans. Prior to joining the banking industry, she served as director of financial aid at Colorado Mesa University.

In addition to her USU experience, she has a joint Ph.D. in communication and writing studies and rhetoric from the University of Utah, as well as a master’s in rhetoric and writing studies from San Diego State University. Her research investigates the intersection of memory, trauma, and identity in the context of war.

A 14-year resident of Macon, Ga., Jones and her husband Paul have two children — all of them Aggies. Sylvia holds a bachelor’s in economics from Utah State University and an MBA from Western State Colorado University. Jones and her family continue to lead philanthropy efforts to develop and implement higher education initiatives that meet the needs of underserved youth.

Development Board

You can reach Barton at (435) 797-4473 or Justin.Barton@usu.edu. Read more about CHaSS’s giving program at http://chass.usu.edu/giving/why-give.

Development Board Members Lt. Gen. James King

’68 Political Science CEO – JC King Group LLC

Kathie Miller

’71 English Owner – Mark Miller Auto Group

John Lewis Needham ’97 American Studies Entrepreneur

Jessie Richards

’04 English Owner – Intercom Strategies

Tim Stewart

’96 Political Science Founding partner – American Capitol Group

Major General Brian Tarbet

’73 Political Science Adjutant General (retired) – Utah National Guard

Roger O. Tew

’74 Political Science Founder and attorney – Roger O. Tew Attorneys at Law

She also runs a corporate communication consulting business, Intercom Strategies, “on the side.” Intercom Strategies delivers workshops and trainings and professional and workplace communication.

- Sylvia Jones


CHaSS grad returns as new development director

- Jessie Richards

Development Board




Hill Aerospace Museum curator draws on USU lessons


ustin Hall is a classicist. He double minored in Greek and Latin. His master’s thesis explored intellectualism in ancient Greek drama. He’d created for himself “a niche in the ancient world.” But at the moment, he is pointing to a machine gun with a barrel as wide as a soccer ball protruding from the nose of a large, solid and sleek marvel of technology, the Warthog. “This A-10 is my favorite aircraft here,” he said. “When I arrived, I didn’t even know that the A stood for ‘attack’.” Since he joined the Hill Aerospace Museum as its curator in 2010, he’s learned loads about planes — and helicopters and the veterans of American wars. And, in his former position as curator of the Zion National Park Museum, he became versed in ancient pottery, red rocks, and mountain goats.

People think that in some ways it’s like having a degree in nothing, but it’s like having a degree in everything...

Humans. Their nature, their innovative thinking, their optimism.

There’s one thread that weaves together the papyrus of Euripides to the clay pots of the Southwest to the museum’s SR-71, the world’s fastest airplane.

As a curator, Hall’s job is to preserve history, whether its makers were dressed in togas as they invented philosophy or in 20th-century suits engineering the technological marvels that freed us from earth-bound constraints. “I appreciate human nature, and I enjoy seeing what humans do as a species,” he said. “The questions and stories don’t change much, regardless of the era.”



He pauses to add, “I’ve never regretted it.” The next steps on his career path took him to the USU Museum of Anthropology, and he eventually earned a master’s in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University.

Learning to appreciate it all With his museum studies focus, Hall traveled to Zion National Park for an internship as a summer museum tech. That stint turned into a full-time job, and in 2010 he was named curator of the Zion National Park Museum. History grad Justin Hall has curated the Hill Aerospace Museum since 2015

Hall was introduced to Utah as a young soccer player, traveling with a team from his hometown of Anchorage, Alaska. He left the state with plans to return. He did, to Utah State University where he registered as a psychology major. After one semester, however, he switched to philosophy. Psychology, he found, was all about the brain, when what most interested him was “the life of the mind.” And the most essential, purest cerebral world he could find was in philosophy. During those years, he was enticed down the halls of Old Main to the History Department’s Classics Studies. His first impulse had been to learn Latin, primarily as a foundation for romance languages like French or Italian. He soon discovered, though, “that you can’t learn a language without learning about the people who speak it,” he said. “It just drew me in.” His next move may seem a foregone conclusion for a student who, if he could, would create a time machine to carry him to ancient Athens. He remained at USU to earn a master’s in history, which he saw as just a step on his way to a doctorate in classics. Ancient Greece offers countless beaten paths through philosophy — Plato, for instance, or the Stoics and Epicureans. But



Hall enjoyed more the chuckles, gaffs and human insights of the folks in the cheap seats of popular theater. “The average person on the street probably wasn’t an expert in Platonic ideas,” he said. “When you look at how philosophical ideas were presented in theater, you get a much better sense for what the popular attitude was. “So in some ways,” he adds, “my thesis was like looking at American politics by watching ‘The Simpsons’.” As he neared the end of his master’s work in history, the “real world” began to leak in at the edges. He decided the odds of becoming a professional classics scholar were slim. But what does one do with a degree in philosophy and other topics in the humanities? Hall never doubted he had one sizable advantage in his favor. “It may seem like a degree in nothing,” he said of his schooling in philosophy and history. “But it’s like having a degree in everything because so many of the things you learn can be applied to just about any job you have. You don’t learn a specific

At the Zion museum, for instance, “nobody can specialize in all that stuff,” he says. The museum’s collection sprawls to include paleontology, ancient peoples, wildlife, early pioneer settlers, unique plants — and that’s not to mention the many times the sheer red cliffs of Zion have inspired modern painters and photographers. At any given time, he says, just 2 or 3 percent of the museum’s artifacts are on display. One thing, however, held up Hall’s appreciation for all the wonders under his control: His heart was still in the classics. He remembers one “crown jewel” of the Zion collection, a clay pot excavated in the 1920s. It was completely intact and

Both my history and philosophy background have come into play in a lot of subtle ways you wouldn’t necessary expect.

A classic move

The position involved oversight of not only Zion’s collection, but also collections at Bryce Canyon National Park and Cedar Breaks National Monument. The National Park Service has a “robust museum program” with a mission to preserve and protect access, says Hall. Unlike many private-sector museums, however, curators of federal institutions are forced to be Renaissance men and women.

wrapped in the original yucca cordage, plus it was filled with ancient corn – all in all “an amazing archaeological find,” he said. Scientists placed the pot’s age at between 1,100 and 1,500 years. But Hall was “just coming out of the huge classics thing,” he recalls. “And I’m doing the math in my head.” As every classicist knows, in this era, about the year 500, the Coliseum in Rome and Parthenon in Athens were already centuries old. “I thought, ‘Monumental achievements had been going on in Europe for thousands of years, and these guys are making clay pots.’” He stops right there. It’s the stories behind the artifacts that matter most. He says, “It took me a while to appreciate (Southwestern U.S. artifacts) in their own context and not compare them to these other cultures I had been living in for so long before that.” And in going through such a restructuring of one’s thought process, he adds, “You learn a lot about yourself.” And that applies to museum work in general, he adds. “You learn to appreciate this stuff and its stories, regardless of where your own interests lie.” It helps, he adds, to be around the enthusiastic and passionate scientists and researchers who would show up at the Zion Museum for their research. “Other people’s enthusiasm can rub off on you,” he said, “especially when they’re really passionate about something and express the significance” of the artifact. It’s a perspective he’ll remember when he’s creating the next exhibit or doing outreach – drawing in that reluctant museum visitor.

On the record Hall moved with his family — wife Lisa and their two children — northward to Layton in 2015 to accept the curator position at the Hill Aerospace Museum. Both Hill & Zion museums are federally funded — the Hill museum is part of the U.S. Air Force Museum System based out of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. But Hill Aerospace, says Hall, “is much closer to what a regular public

museum is.” At the Hill museum, surrounded by aircraft the height of a two-story building, Hall had to readjust again. Unlike the museum’s conservator, who dusts and repairs damaged artifacts, a museum’s curator is responsible for what Hall calls “preventive conservation.” He’s pledged to create a stable, safe environment for artifacts. Just as vital is documentation, the behind-the-curtain structure that keeps the collection relevant and, more importantly, searchable by researchers across the world. He collects and records stories behind the artifacts and confirms their provenance. It’s good, old-fashioned record keeping for good, old-fashioned objects. “Things become less and less accessible

Questions “ and stories don’t change much, regardless of the era.

right now,” he said. “So, we have to guess, ‘What about this (artifact) might be significant down the road?’” It’s particularly in this regard that Hall draws on his training in philosophy and history. “Both my history and philosophy background have come into play in a lot in these sorts of subtle ways you wouldn’t necessarily expect,” he says. “It has definitely helped with different types of skill sets that are very applicable to the kind of work I do.” The Hill Aerospace Museum, with its aircraft representing every American war since World War I, has a different vibe than, for instance, a natural history museum. Here, the artifacts and historic aircraft connect with many visitors in a way a dinosaur skeleton never could. The museum presents “an interesting dynamic because you have technology and innovation really meeting history,” he said. “We get to walk in both worlds.” In the dual world of museum visitors, one camp is made up of children who “just go crazy, running around and who think it’s so cool to see this or that airplane.”

skill, like accounting but you learn how to think.”

if they’re not documented correctly,” he said. “In a collection of thousands of items, regardless of what museum, when someone says, ‘I’m looking for a projectile point or this uniform’ it helps to have a consistent nomenclature and maintain consistency in the kind of details you record.” A curator’s job is also, in a sense, about picking and choosing the future of the museum. With a museum like Hill Aerospace, which gets far more donations of war and aircraft artifacts than it can accept, “it can get tricky,” he said. “It’s easy to gloss over something because it doesn’t seem all that significant

Then, there’s “that older generation who may have a very somber experience here,” he adds. “They knew people who died in these planes,” he says. “It will bring them to tears because it brings back such strong memories.” Despite his love for history, he says, the most rewarding part of the job is these living, breathing beings who visit museums. “It’s great to actually be part of something that can impact people on such a personal level,” he said. Indiana Jones never felt that. OK, Hall admits, his job actually bears little resemblance to that of Indiana Jones. “Despite what my mom might tell you.”

Learn more about the museum certificate on page 41 History


Kindling a desire to learn


verything is self-evident.”

That statement’s author, philosopher René Descartes, has obviously never struggled through a college philosophy class. Or tried to read Nietzsche. Philosophy is demanding, says professor Charlie Huenemann, Ph D. It begins with the seemingly simple questions we all ask — “What’s real?” or “Am I just a speck of dust in the universe?” “Of course,” says Huenemann, “things get complicated quickly — because life gets complicated.” We spend our lives skipping across puddles, restricted by time and inclination, simply splashing about. But philosophy is a deep dive many of us don’t have time to bother with. Unfortunately. Even Nietzsche is ready to hand out guilt: “The doer alone learneth.” Huenemann’s new venture makes philosophy, not necessarily easier, but definitely more accessible to those of us who seek to learneth.

“And we’re in Gutenberg 2.0.” Johannes Gutenberg printed chapbooks. So does Huenemann. His primers, however, are electronic novella-length essays that explore such concepts as doubt, justice, the rational life — and they’re all instantly downloadable from Amazon. These modern-day chapbooks can be attained for a couple of dollars — or free if you’re a member of Amazon’s KindleUnlimited. At 50 or 60 digital pages, the e-books can be read in about an hour — the length of a plane ride or a couch break on a Sunday afternoon. They instruct, as well as entertain. “My essays are meant to be something that might entertain readers and get their thoughts going in different ways,” he says. Huenemann’s first volley in e-books was inspired by Minecraft, an international computer gaming phenomenon and obsession of his then 9-year-old son. Huenemann, too, was drawn in. Minecraft players create their own virtual worlds, happily building palaces with resources they hunt down or engaging in combat against zombies and huge spiders. At one point, struggling to escape a mineshaft and evading skeletons carrying bows and arrows, he realized, “There’s some interesting philosophical ideas at play here.”

He’s an expert on philosophic thought of the Enlightenment (about 1450-1860), and he’s had his scholarly work published by such established and ivy-covered institutions as Oxford and Cambridge. Still, he hasn’t hesitated to jump into our modern culture’s roiling and breakneck digital stream.

Scholarly publishing houses weren’t interested, unsurprisingly, in a book looking at the philosophy in Minecraft. But Amazon was. “They were very enthused,” remembers Huenemann. “They said, ‘This is exactly the kind of stuff we’re looking for — something that’s not a book, but is creative and engaging with contemporary life. And it’s also connected to great big ideas.”

The internet, he says, has been “hugely transformative” in the way we humans communicate and learn. “With the invention of the printing press,” he says, “Gutenberg changed the world, no question about it.

He followed up How You Play the Game: A Philosopher Plays Minecraft, with what he calls the Stacks of Books series. The four books now in the series began life with Huenemann’s self-taught technique of learning through writing. “I find that the

way for me to understand something is to write about it,” he said. The resulting essays became the e-books Inventing Justice, released in October 2016, followed in short order by World as Idea, Doubts, and To View from Eternity. Just released in May was Sloterdijk’s Spheres, exploring humans’ eternal obsession with, well, spheres. There is really no theme, said Huenemann, except for a casual thread of “the interplay between knowledge and doubt.” “I thought, ‘Let’s see if people are interested’,” he said. “And they have been. Huenemann spent two years seeking to understand the ‘mystifying’ philosophy of Nietzsche, the great German thinker. The result was Nietzsche: Genius of the Heart, which he uses in his undergraduate classes. It’s also available on Amazon.

That’s been gratifying.” At 99 cents or so a pop (minus Amazon fees), Huenemann isn’t getting rich. “I already have a salary,” he says. “My main interest is in making these ideas and essays available.” He’s found that the audience for these digitally shared ideas is twofold. First, there is the casual but educated reader who has only a Wikipedia-deep understanding of such thinkers as Spinoza, Hegel, and Nietzsche. These are people who “want to engage more with the questions and further ideas of famous thinkers,” he said. Then, there is the army of Huenemann’s former philosophy students. “I have a lot of students who after they graduate write back and say, ‘I miss college. I’d really like to get back into discussing ideas.’” “Part of the reason I started writing the

Stacks of Books essays is for those students who would like to basically sit in on another philosophy class,” he said. That description pretty much describes Justin Hall. “Now that I’m not in academia anymore, my brain starts starving to death,” says this former student, who earned his philosophy undergraduate degree in 2006. “I can’t always commit to reading a big book on Nietzsche, but these little bite-sized books are fantastic.” Huenemann plans to spend the summer months writing. The e-books, he says, are “great and fun and important,” But, he adds, “I have to also keep my scholarly life going as well.” He’s still likely to find some time to fit in another Amazon Single, perhaps on the relationship between science and magic — yes, the kind of magic that takes in astrology, potions, and wizards. “Harry Potter-like magic,” he says. “In the history of science in the 16th and 17th century, the dividing line between what we would call magic and what we know as science was very blurry,” said Huenemann. “Kepler was doing his astronomy, but he was making astrological star charts at the same time.” We’re looking forward to Huenemann’s next chapter.


WITH THE PROFESSOR Charlie Huenemann has kept his own blog since 2007 at https://huenemanniac.com/ In his bio, he explains his “musings” thus: “While he accepts that dwarves on the shoulders of giants can see further than the giants themselves, (he) prefers to be a ground-level dwarf, looking up at the giants and trying to figure out what makes them so tall.” He also posts at https://usuphilosophy.com/ Philosophy


Hacking Life As comic, videographer, and fashion designer, Dave Ackerman finds ideas are his best resource


ave Ackerman’s life journey seems like one crazy mountain road of switchbacks. At one crook, for instance, he paused to portray a life-sized talking tongue in a Youtube Video. Dust clouded another curve as he skidded around the bend, pulled behind a motorcycle, the rear pockets of his jeans shredding and smoking. But you can’t call this road a bit eccentric. Or aimless. Or even haphazard. It’s inspired. Once, for a speech to high school students in Utah DECA, a statewide marketing and entrepreneurship club, the introducer described Ackerman as a writer, producer, actor, stand-up comedian, fashion designer, and entrepreneur. Ackerman’s response: “That’s all?” If he could, he says, he’d look each youngster directly in the eye and say, “Hack your life. Every step of the way.”

“The creative people “

are the Swiss Army knife of any industry.

Ackerman’s childhood heroes, boy detective Encyclopedia Brown and scheming Ferris Bueller, would not have understood this modern-day notion of reprogramming your brain to improve life. But it’s their advice that still inspires Ackerman: Above all, be resourceful. That remains the principle behind the 36-year-old’s flourishing non-linear career. These days, Ackerman is living what’s always been his career dream: Doing pretty much whatever he wants to. “I’ve just always known,” he adds, “that I would make my own way.” Now, his latest venture is Tobacco Motorwear, a company that manufactures and sells exclusive motorcycle clothing lined

with Kevlar. And if this seems just a zig from Ackerman’s zag of comedy and writing, he explains, it’s “the most creative thing I’ve ever done.”

Lessons from a shy teenager

This story begins with a shy high schooler in West Jordan, Utah. “I had one friend,” Ackerman recalls. “He wasn’t in my lunch one of the days, so I’d eat lunch in the library so nobody would see me eating alone.” Those awkward years cemented a lifelong attitude that he now describes this way: “If a crowd is doing it, I have a problem with it.” So he heartily agreed when that lone friend suggested, “Hey, everybody’s trying to get into yearbook. Wouldn’t be funny if we tried not to get into yearbook?” For the next couple of years, he said, “We gloried in non-participation.” The adult Ackerman now reflects on this shy, curly-haired sophomore who took wardrobe advice from Scooby-Doo’s friend Shaggy: “If I wasn’t trying to fit in, then no one could make fun of me.” That same year at Bingham High, one of Utah’s largest high schools, he crashed the annual school club kickoff. As other, more normal clubs tacked up their signs, Ackerman set up his own booth. He donned his grandfather’s musty class sweater and gathered up the dryer lint he’d be saving for over a year (yes, bizarre is his badge). He displayed the lint — sorted into categories like green lint and rainbow lint — under a sign advertising The Lint Club. “We got more signups than any other club,” he remembers. “It was this idea of laughing at all these institutions and the way things are always done.”

Thus began a high school career of pushing bullies off-kilter by buying their lunches and trying out jokes on anyone who’d listen. No one was more surprised than Ackerman when he was elected prom king. He realized, he adds, “that I’d become weirdly popular.” That high school pranksterism was “all in fun,” he says now, but the lesson from those years was very serious: “It’s how you look at your world. Are you seeing opportunities and creatively taking advantage of them?”

The nirvana of video

Ackerman is one of nine children of Jim and Susan Ackerman, who met while both were students at Utah State University. The younger Ackerman was enthusiastic to follow family tradition. He enrolled at USU as a business major because, he says, “Everybody tells you that’s the responsible move.” Classes were just “OK,” he said. Then, one course required him to write and film a commercial. So he headed to Al’s Sporting Goods, his chosen subject, where he angled actual discounts on hats to make his student commercial more “real.” “I thought, ‘This is the funnest thing I’ve done!’” he said. “I was like, ‘This is way closer to what I want to be doing’.” That prompted his shift to the broadcast track in the Department of Journalism and Communication, a much better fit for his style of thinking. In JCOM, he finally found himself among students who shared his outlook. “A lot of the types who end up in communications like talking to people,” he says now. “They like working on differJournalism and Communication


We’re now in a market, he says, where “you can’t think about commercials like you used to.” Ackerman’s videos have often been swept up by the viral stream, like “The Dangers of Selfie Sticks,” a so-called “public service announcement” that’s actually a soft commercial for Pizza Hut. Ackerman wrote and directed the two-and-ahalf-minute video that became one of the most shared ads of May 2015.

Cycling through fashion

Dave Ackerman -- comic, writer, and videographer -- says the creation of Tobacco Motorwear is the most creative thing he’s ever done.

ent things, maybe showing off, like ‘Look what I can do for you’.”

that had just exploded on the scene: YouTube viral videos.

His experience in video editing, gained during college and as an Aggie TV reporter, earned him his first “real” job with the Utah Jazz. His single duty was editing tape of the team’s mascot, Jazz Bear. “I felt like it was a cool job,” he says. “But I’ve always had problems with hourly work,”

Ackerman found opportunity with a Utah company badly in need of some cheap marketing for its product, the Orabrush tongue brush. YouTube, says Ackerman, was cheap. With his brother Joel Ackerman, a film graduate from Brigham Young University, they created “The Diary of A Dirty Tongue,” a weekly vlog that posted more than 100 4- to 5-minute episodes from 2011 to 2012 or so. Dave Ackerman appears as Morgan, a sloppy, smart-alec tongue the size of a football player.

Plus, he adds, “I was working for a man in a bear suit.”

What’s your brand, man?

As a budding contrarian, Ackerman soon discovered that he was not a clock-puncher. What would be even better, he decided, would be for people to ask him to work for them. “I thought, if I’m good enough at something or if I have a personal brand,” he said, “people will come to me.” The foundation of Ackerman’s own brand began with gigs as a stand-up comedian — a natural result of his high school lab experiments of testing his few jokes on new targets. “I was always working the room,” he said. The gigs eventually landed him in Chicago, where he began studying with The Second City improvisational theater and training center. Among his lessons there was the concept of 2- or 3-minute sketch comedies. Those short comedic skits, he soon found, perfectly meshed with a trend


Journalism and Communication

The series quickly floated to the top of video viewership, he said, becoming the third largest branded channel on YouTube behind Old Spice’s “the man your man could smell like” campaign and a blitz by Apple Computer. He and Joel moved to Los Angeles and embarked on a successful course of creating video advertising spots. Eventually, an amiable split between the brothers left Joel with their original joint venture, Ackerman Creative, and Dave launching his own social-content studio, Spaceman Creative. Ackerman’s expertise soon became creating branded viral videos. “We used to call them commercials,” he says. “Remember commercials?”

With a growing family — his wife, Lisa, a toddler named Ila and baby Forrest — Ackerman decided to “reinvent” himself a couple of years ago, this time as an offbeat fashion designer. The result, Tobacco Motorwear Co., specializes in high-end jeans lined with Kevlar, a plastic textile designed to stop bullets — and road rash. More recently, Tobacco Motorwear has moved to manufacturing Kevlar-lined shirts. Ackerman took his playbook right out of an Encyclopedia Brown novel. This is the thought process he recommends. Dave Ackerman, a native of Utah, loves the open road.

First: Recognize a problem that needs solving “Fixing problems is a billion-dollar industry. That’s the world today,” he says. “You can fix a problem in seven different ways, and all of those can be million-dollar companies.” In the case of Tobacco, that need was on the part of motorcyclists who had to “sacrifice style for safety,” he said. (Disclaimer needed: Ackerman chose the name tobacco for its reference to the vintage color, a leatherish brown hue, not as a reference to tobacco use, which he does not endorse.)

Then: Analyze your resources In Ackerman’s plans for a potential clothing line, his most valuable resource, he found, was his home base in Los Angeles, the hub of thriving fashion manufacturing, denim providers, and distribution channels. Another resource was his own familiarity with the motorcycle community. And finally, he jokes, he uses a resource that Encyclopedia Brown would have relished: Google for everything he didn’t know. For instance, he says “Google, where can I get Kevlar?”

Next: Try it To Ackerman’s way of thinking, “There’s nothing sadder than an idea hoarder.” Don’t worry, he admonishes, “whether the idea is good or original enough. For my brother and me, it was never a question of whether ideas were good or not; it was just, ‘Let’s try it.’” An idea can have tremendous value, he adds. “But you can’t eat it and you can’t spend it. So now you’ve got to start doing some work.” Have we mentioned Ackerman’s drive to work hard? Finally: If you fail, determine what did work, and begin again. Ackerman is known, and frequently hired, for his ability to brainstorm. One recent client was a Silicon Valley app maker. He remembers:

Dave Ackerman inspects factory samples of his new brand of bullet - and skinned knee - proof motorcycle wear.

I went to a meeting with about six important people after an app they’d created failed. They began by saying, ‘These are the available resources. Maybe the app failed, but there’s some good technology in it.’ I said, ‘What are some other applications we can design, leveraging what’s good about our failed app?’ We came up with 20 ideas. The company was elated. But if they’d called me earlier and said, ‘Hey Dave, give us 20 ideas for apps’, I don’t know if I could have done it. But I could sitting with the people who know what’s possible. Ideas create ideas.” Later, he wanted to know if something like Tobacco Motorwear would actually grab an audience. So he took his idea to Kickstarter, a crowd-funding platform for people who want to try out ideas. “We thought, ‘If we put this out here we’ll know if it succeeds, or we’ll know it fails — because there’s not a market, or because we suck,” he says.

JCOM students are articulate and creative, he said. They understand creating stories and are more willing to wade through puddles, he says. That’s exactly what Ackerman himself looks for in employees. “Creative people are like a Swiss Army knife. They just have a little bit of everything. They ask questions, and they understand how people’s minds work. “JCOM majors should be optimistic about their future,” he says. “Robots may replace everybody except creative people. We have the longest time before we’re obsolete.” Known for his viral videos, Dave Ackerman now creates documentaries about epic motorcycle tours. He’s shown here during a recent jaunt to southeast Utah.

The money came in from more than 500 backers, reaching $120,000 in two months. “If you have an idea,” he adds, “try it. You always win because you learn something.”

No robots here

Ackerman says his training in JCOM gave him the versatility he needed to “hack” his life. “JCOM graduates are poised to take the world by storm,” he says. “They are the problem solvers the world needs.” Journalism and Communication


Tina’s walk of life T

ina Haskin does not know if each step into the dark space before her will be helpful — or hurtful.

a world we know. I’ve really appreciated her because she’s opened up my world.”

“There’s fear there,” she says. “All the time.”

In April, she earned the Legacy Award from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. This annual award recognizes “a student who represents the heart and soul of the university.” And as she sat down for an interview recently, it’s obvious there’s a lot of heart and soul here. She’s composed, chatty, and cocks her head at any curious thought. She carries the sunglasses that protect her eyes from searing light. A scarf loops her neck, her lipstick is neat, and her flip-flops bounce. She’s a regular texter and Facebooker.

The Quad is especially immense for this 24-year-old who’s has been blind since birth. Each step carries shadows or flickers, obstacles, or phantoms. Haskin graduated this May with her bachelor’s in American Studies. She’s here in Logan because of her academic achievements, and because she’s learned to understand and stifle her fear. “That’s the book I want to write,” she says, “about reaching out to that empty space to try and grasp something that will help me, or hinder me and what I can learn from it.” She’s now been accepted into the American Studies graduate program to pursue a master’s degree where she says she will ground her continuing advocacy for others who are visually impaired. She’s been named a graduate teaching assistant, so she’ll soon have her own classrooms. And, says Jeannie Thomas, English Department head, Tina will continue to teach all of those around her, in her calm, cheery, and matter-of-fact style.


Limitations are what Tina confronts daily.

Curiously scanning the faces of those around him is Butch, her 8-year-old guide dog and closest companion — so close, she laughs, that “I had to get a full-sized bed.” She’s leaving the next day to fly to Manhattan to speak at a conference of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, an international organization. Before an audience of donors, puppy raisers, and guide dog users, she’ll tell her listeners “about the concepts of using a guide dog, advocacy and policy, and cultural norms and how to deal with difficult people and situations.”

A friendship with Tina is itself a gentle lesson in “how our own experiences can be limiting,” Thomas says. “I thought, boy, in some ways working with Tina is about finding the areas where my imagination is limited and where I am blind,” she says.

Here’s just one indicator of her widespread efforts as an advocate for blind people: Butch has flown on more than 250 flights.

“In her patient way,” adds Thomas, “she’s helping us grow because that’s not

Tina’s blindness is called retinopathy of prematurity, blindness caused by unde-

CHaSS Legacy Award

So when Tina looks back to describe her life, her story comes as shocking, even discomforting.

For winner of CHaSS Legacy Award, each step displays courage -- and


veloped retinas, the part of the eye that captures images and sends them to the brain for translation.

body who has hopes, feelings, and desires.

As a newborn, three months premature, her retinas never developed as they should have. They never had a chance. Tina was discovered as an infant, placed in a pile of garbage in New Delhi, India.

In certain ways, yes because of my age and gender. But with my disability, I’m a minority. I feel like teachers haven’t known how to help me, so they often either point me out in front of the class, or they don’t know how to include me. So it makes for a very awkward experience.

Her early months were spent in an Indian orphanage, sick and tiny, a premature baby with little attention and no medical care. When an American woman visited the orphanage, “she saw me and had a strong feeling to adopt me,” Tina says now. Her new adoptive father was a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, her new mother a dedicated worker among India’s poor. After a long paperwork battle with a government known for its corruption, Tina ended up with her new family first in California and later in Chicago, where she spent her high school years. Tina’s origins remain mostly a mystery. Her adoptive parents dispatched private investigators to find the birth mother, concerned concerned that she was ill, desperately poor, or a victim of sexual violence. All they discovered, says Tina, was that the woman likely had died shortly after. A genetics test identified Tina’s forebears as Indian and European. Encouraged by her LDS faith, Tina traveled to Utah alone, first attending LDS Business College in Salt Lake City. In early 2014, she transferred to USU because, she says, “This school seems like the right place to be.”

In her own words Because Tina’s own words most profoundly reveal her wisdom, self-awareness and optimism, what follows are transcribed excepts from our interview with her.

Tell us about your blindness: The retina in the back of my eye didn’t


CHaSS Legacy Award

Do you blend in well with your fellow students during class?

Do you raise your hand often with questions or opinions? I love my classes, and I love speaking my mind and elaborating on concepts we’re talking about. I found that when I talk and I include myself, it opens people’s hearts to accept me more. I really try to work hard on speaking. Butch is a devoted audience for Tina Haskin’s fun, cheery, and curious personality.

develop; my eyeballs aren’t affected. I can see sunlight and some shadows when they’re close enough to me. When I enter a building, I have to make that transition and be ready for it. It can be confusing because, often, I think there’s something in front of me or to my side. My sunglasses block out that distraction of flickers.

What do you tell others who struggle with vision disabilities? Your only limits are those you think internally about yourself. So, to elaborate — and pontificate — on that, blindness should not be the thing that holds you back from pursuing a college degree, a marriage or a career you love. If anything, that should be the least thing that limits you. You can do things you put your mind to and use imagination and determination.

What responses do you get from strangers? I get various degrees of people who treat me like I’m a baby, like I don’t know anything or who treat me like I’m helpless.

People will grab me on campus, but they don’t say anything. They just grab me by the arm and pull me places with my dog because they think I’m going to walk into something.

If you were the queen of the world, how would you like people to treat you? Like a queen! What is so healing to me, and everyone with a disability, is just to be treated like everybody else, like a normal human being, somebody with feelings, somebody who gets frustrated, somebody who loves to hang out and just be included in friendships.

Do you think people respond to you in negative ways because of misplaced kindness? It does us a disservice to treat us like that. People don’t realize what they’re doing, whether it’s out of ignorance or out of pity. I’m nobody’s service project. I just want to be included. And I just want people to see who I really am, a person just like them, somebody with a job, some-

Yours is definitely an uncommon perspective: All my professors have said that — in my nonfiction workshops, in my fiction writing classes, the way I portray fantasy, the way I see things. I love fantasy. It’s a world I can escape into, and it’s so full of imagery that I can just think up in my head. I especially love J.R.R. Tolkien. He is amazing. He’s so descriptive; he can take a picture of a tree and just elaborate on its roots and its branches and, metaphorically and symbolically, turn that into something beautiful.

On May 6, Tina Haskin walked with the Class of 2017 to receive her bachelor’s. She’s accompanied by Christine Cooper-Rompato, associate professor of English.

How has technology changed your college career?

Do you look forward to future innovation?

It’s made it easier. When I was growing up, my teacher or a student took notes for me, and I just didn’t have the independence I really needed to be successful. Now I can write on a braille computer and have that output come through braille right below the keyboard. That’s really helped me. The Apex Braille Notetaker has a display with six little pins that pop up — there are 18 rows of six pins. As soon as I type something, it types it in braille and then refreshes. Then I’ll download those notes onto my computer via Bluetooth.

Yes, I’m so excited. One of my blind mentors said that now is the best time to be blind because the technology is so innovative and readily available. There’s really no excuse to not succeed in what you put your mind to.

But can I pet him? Guide dog etiquette

With downy ears and a soft, knowing gaze, Butch simply invites pets and cuddles. But please don’t – without permission. “It’s like when somebody comes up to you and puts their hands over your eyes,” says Tina Haskin, who has been blind since birth. “I don’t know who it is, and it’s confusing. He’s my eyes. He shouldn’t be distracted from his job.”

What do the next five years hold for you? I want to get my doctorate, and I want to defend my dissertation. I want to be a stronger advocate and more educated so I can help other people see their potential. I want to prove to myself — and maybe to others, but not in a negative way — that blind people are respectable and that it’s respectable to be blind. We can be parents. We can be leaders. There’s no manual for life, and there’s no manual for life with a disability. But we figure it out by pushing ourselves past our limits, maybe getting pushed down, but getting out of our comfort zones and taking risks.

CHaSS Legacy Award


Not our fathers’

Vietnam Groundbreaking anthology tells of a land and people bathed in sunlight and hope


any Americans still think of Vietnam as the name of a war, not a country.

Napalm. Camouflage boonie hats. Burning children. Dusty, sweat-stained soldiers. Unwittingly, we’ve become trapped in what author Charles Waugh calls a “historical prison.” “When Americans think of Vietnam, we tend to think of our experience there,” he said. “We don’t think of what the country is like today.”

Today, the children and grandchildren of that country’s veterans think little of war. Theirs is an original, hopeful voice colored by the frenetic streets of Hanoi and Saigon (Ho Chi Min City) and the brilliant cleanliness of factories. Now, their insights have been captured in a new analogy of short stories collected, edited, and translated in part by Waugh, an associate professor of English. It is published in trade paperback by Curbstone, an imprint of Northwestern University Press.

the country to a market economy. “I’m really trying to show what life is like for them,” he said, “to get a sense of what that change for them has meant and how their culture has changed.” Nine years after doi moi, the United States normalized relations with Vietnam. This marked an end to 50 years of war and sanctions that began with the French in the 1950s and continued following the United States departure with conflicts with the Khmer Rouge in Laos and China. At the same time, the internet and global TV networks brought the world right to the Vietnamese. “They’ve been isolated for 50 years,” Waugh said. “And suddenly they’re connected to the world in more ways than they could ever have imagined.” Today’s pace is led by a generation that Waugh describes as “go-getters who are all striving to make it work.” He sees peo-

ple in “all kinds of service jobs, computers, advertising, design, all those things just like any city in the United States.” Waugh was himself a teenager in the late 1970s and early ‘80s when Hollywood began exploring America’s post-war hangups. Fascinated by this still recent American experience, Waugh watched every film he could. That’s when he first noticed there were few Vietnamese, soldiers or otherwise, on screen. “There was an erasure of Vietnamese from that picture,” he says. He learned that while America’s war dead numbered about 58,000, more than 4 million Vietnamese were killed or died from disease and destitution. Waugh turned his historical and, eventually, literary attention to this southeastern Asia country, learning the language as a master’s student and in extended stays, including an award of a Fulbright Scholarship to teach at the Vietnam National University in Hanoi.

Vietnamese is a notoriously difficult language to translate into English, mainly because it’s more fluid in its use of verb tenses and grammar. Waugh worked through those obstacles with Lien Nguyen, professor emeritus at Vietnam National University. Their previous work as co-editors is Family of Fallen Leaves: Stories of Agent Orange by Vietnamese Writers (University of Georgia Press, 2010). Wild Mustard, takes its title from a story that Waugh says beautifully illustrates the country’s seismic shift. The story’s speaker recalls the mustard seeds his grandmother sold at village markets. “He takes as a metaphor that he and his generation are like these mustard seeds that are very light, that flake apart and are easily blown by the wind,” Waugh said. “For him, it’s a sense of being scattered and not being rooted in the environment in the same way as the traditional lifestyle. It’s both good and bad.” Book List found on next page

Charles Waugh

Wild Mustard is the first-ever anthology to introduce these young writers to English speakers. His goal, he says, is “to bring Vietnamese voices to the United States, to tell their stories in a way that’s moving, in beautiful language and with emotion that allows us to make connections with these characters,” he said. “This is a story that most Americans just aren’t aware of.” The anthology’s authentic voice has been endorsed by the most renown Vietnamese writers working in English. “From country to city and from the past to the present, these powerful, vividly translated stories illuminate a vibrant, conflicted society that is electric with emotion,” Viet Thanh Nguyen said in a review. Nguyen is the author of The Sympathizer, winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The authors of the anthology’s 19 stories write of hope, disorientation, love, loss, good fortune, and ambition — topics not owned by any one country or people. All are professional writers of some sort — magazine editors and screen writers, for instance. They offer mysteries and love stories, fantasy and coming-of-age tales. Their commonality is that all were children during the period of doi moi, the 1986 reforms that discarded communism and moved Bookshelf


FACULTY BOOK LIST The Bhagavata Purana: Selected Readings Ravi M. Gupta

Charles Redd Chair of Religious Studies Columbia University Press, November 2016 The centuries-old Bhagavata Purana is an important theological and devotional text of Hinduism. But it remains largely unread because of its length and complexity. Gupta’s translation of selected section makes the Purana accessible for the first time, expanding an audience for its Sanskrit and the traditions of Krishna and Vishnu. With Kenneth R. Valpey.

The Fairy Tale and Its Uses in Contemporary New Media and Popular Culture Claudia Schwabe, editor

Assistant professor of German MDPI AG; 1. December 2016 The fairy tale is eternal, constantly reshaped by its tellers. Today is no different. Our popular culture is full of modern adaptations on screens and in books. This book of essays examines the significance of the fairy tale for our society and its many uses beyond simple entertainment.

Entering the Way of the Great Vehicle Dominic Sur

Assistant professor of Religious Studies Snow Lion, January 2017 The 11th-century treatise, written by Rongzom Zangpo during the renaissance of Buddhism in Tibet, is considered to be a classic of Tibetan thought. Sur’s translation focuses on the work’s central theme, the notion of illusory appearance. Reviewers describe it as a must-read for those interested in Tibet’s Great Perfection and intellectual history.

An English Governess in the Great War: The Secret Brussels Diary of Mary Thorp Tammy M. Proctor

Professor of history Oxford University Press, May 2017 English-born Mary Thorp’s diary, which long remained anonymous, tells of life in an occupied city during the indignities and destruction of World War I. She offers witty commentary on political, social, and cultural changes as an outsider of both the wealthy lifestyle of her employer, a wealthy sugar manufacturer, and the servants who endured long lines for food and supplies.

Wild Mustard: New Voices from Vietnam Charles Waugh

Associate Professor of English Curbstone (an imprint of Northwestern University Press), April 2017 These 19 stories translated from Vietnamese describe a world that is far from the war-time calamities remembered by many Americans. The post generation of the post-war generation see a world of opportunity, doubt, love and good fortune, much like their global neighbors. With Lien Nguyen.

Thin Spines of Memory Star Coulbrooke

Instructor and USU Writing Center director Helicon West Press, March 2017 Coulbrooke, Logan City’s Poet Laureate, looks back to a time and place both idyllic and fraught – a family farm in southern Idaho in the 1950s.

Letters Like the Day: On Reading Georgia O’Keeffe Jennifer Sinor Professor of English University of New Mexico Press, March 2017

Inspired by the great modernist Georgia O’Keeffe, these essays by Sinor teach us to push beyond our limits. She explores the more than 2,000 letters written by O’Keeffe, focusing on how the same aesthetics that drove O’Keeffe – magnification, cropping, and juxtaposition – apply to the written word.

Ordinary Trauma: A Memoir Jennifer Sinor

Professor of English University of Utah Press, February 2017 Sinor pulls on her youth in a military family to reveal the moments in life that are made to appear unremarkable but harm deeply. Ordinary Trauma is set against the late Cold War and daily proximity to long-range nuclear missiles and fast-attack submarines. It reflects how those traumas shape and sour wars on the domestic front.

Naturalness and Biodiversity: Policy and Philosophy of Conserving Natural Areas Gordon Steinhoff

Associate professor of Philosophy Environmental Law Institute, August 2016 Despite a federal management philosophy that seeks to protect “naturalness,” the effort to conserve “what we value” is often done without respect for natural conditions. Dr. Steinhoff examine the effect of federal environmental law and policy on the preservation of national parks, wilderness, and other legally protected areas.

WHERE HAS YOUR DEGREE TAKEN YOU? Dean Ward asked CHaSS graduates in the fall 2016 Liberalis: Where has your degree taken you? We thank Oleksandr Vershynin for his response. by Oleksandr (Sasha) J. Vershynin Where has your degree taken you? How about 5,700 miles one way and my master’s from Kazan Federal University in Kazan, Russia, last July. My unique path to Utah State University and experiences since are documented below.

me to study at Kazan Federal University (Volga region) to pursue my master’s in general and strategic management. My dream is to be a tri-lingual global expert on Russian-American relations in economics through multilateral cooperation. I was hooded as one of the youngest master's in the history of the federal universities in Russia. I am and will be always be thankful for my USU education and life lessons learned. I know they will be a great asset as I move on to life’s next journey.

As Walt Disney said, “All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them.”

HAVE A STORY? We would love to hear your answers to Dean Joe Ward’s question: “Where has your degree taken you?” Please email us at joe.ward@usu.edu.

As an immigrant with extremely poor English skills, I entered The Bolles School (an independent college preparatory school in Jacksonville, Fla.) in the sixth grade. On my third day of classes, my parents were summoned to the school, where they were presented with second-grade English and math books for my use. Needless to say, it was an uphill battle but one I take great pride in the fact that I overcame the obstacles and graduated with my class. I choose USU as my college as I was seeking a truly special setting and cultural experience to help round out my personality. That mission was accomplished during my studies in Logan. I completed my bachelor of arts in liberal arts in 2014. This is quite an achievement for a young boy who at age 12 years was removed from his birthplace of the decaying city Kherson, Ukraine, where water and electricity were only available an hour a day. Although my time was short in Logan, CHaSS calibrated my moral compass, shaped my global views on diversity and enlarged my mind to fully understand how the world functions. All of these instilled traits that will guide me through life and make me a better citizen of the world. After CHaSS, I received the sole Russian Federation Ministry of Education and Science Fellowship for an American master’s student. The fellowship allowed



Photo courtesy of the author Degree Destinations




Applying democratic values to cooperation


very Edenfield was on the board of directors for a small neighborhood grocery cooperative when a co-worker’s offhand remark hit her with one of those lightning bolts of life. “I’ll never forget one of my colleagues who has a master’s degree,” she says of that back-and-forth discussion long ago. “We’re working together, and he’s like, ‘I never really learned how to do this.’” She sees no irony in the fact that a director of a cooperative was unclear about the actual practice of cooperation. “We’re all just expected to collaborate,” she says. “But no one says, ‘This is how you do it in an effective way.’ “So here’s this master’s student and, somewhere along the line, through all those years of schooling, that lesson didn’t get home.” Collaboration is a habit, a skill that we “develop like we would a muscle,” says Edenfield. None of us sits through Collaboration 1050. And that’s unfortunate, adds Edenfield, because, just like grammar or math, collaboration is essential as we strive together as coaches, church-goers, siblings, co-workers, or employees. “It’s such a critical skill for even being a good citizen and living at peace with your neighbors,” she adds. Edenfield herself “took it up as a goal — to teach people to work together democratically.” Edenfield joined USU’s English Department in 2016 after earning a doctorate in professional writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

In the course Introduction to Technical Communication, Avery Edenfield’s goal is to reinforce student’s ability to collaborate, much like one ‘develops a muscle.’

She was a graduate teaching assistant when she joined a neighborhood cooperative that was created as a natural foods market, bar, and community gathering spot. Her first role was as a bouncer. “For sure, I’m much more persuasive than physical,” she laughs. Later, she was elected as a member of the board. Her doctoral work and continuing research on the language of cooperatives are a direct outgrowth of this experience. Cooperatives allow like-minded people to gather and solve a local issue; the majority bring groceries to communities without supermarkets. With one vote per owner, their decisions are “democratic,” says Edenfield. That extends to nearly all communication produced within co-ops, whether it’s, for example, bylaws or job descriptions. Indeed, says Jeannie Thomas, English Department head, “The work Avery does with democratic and non-hierarchal communication is unique.” To visit her classroom is to see those principles in action. On this day, a circle game of Zip Zap Zop has a dozen or so students clapping, hooting, Technical Communication


and shouting hints. “Zaps” and “zops” bounce from one player to the next in an energetic, off-beat rhythm. A few “zips” later, these individuals have melded into a team. This is where the hard part comes in — reshaping a simple game into real-life collaborative work. “My job is to make those ties explicit and to show how ‘this’ maps to ‘that’,” says Edenfield. “Students aren’t always going to make those connections. That’s where I come in.” The game wraps up with a happy buzz. Edenfield herself is clapping, nearly doubling over in laughter. “I learn so much from doing this with you,” she exclaims. And that’s the point, she explains later. “We’re co-creating this learning environment and, hopefully, we can build new knowledge together. I’m learning alongside them, and they’re teaching me. Sometimes it can get messy and chaotic, but it’s really cool to see them teaching each other.” Such out-of-the-chair lessons are the norm for Edenfield, who adds that she “feels the energy drop when I launch into a lecture.” Student Jonathan Toronto, a junior with a double major in philosophy and English, nods in agreement. “It’s not necessarily a

Avery Edenfield


Technical Communication

conventional approach to teaching,” he says. Edenfield’s most useful technique is what she calls improv, like you might see in a live performance of improvisational theater. Her version of “tech comm improv” has a single, basic rule: Participants must always respond: “Yes! And …” Line by line, the players build a story, à la the comedy series “Whose Line is it Anyway?” An idea is unlikely to come out of your mouth perfectly formed, she says. Even

“ We’re co-creating this learning environment and, hopefully, we can build new knowledge together. I’m learning alongside them, and they’re teaching me. Sometimes it can get messy and chaotic, but it’s really cool to see them teaching each other. “

if it does, an idea is not someone’s property, she explains. “I take what you give. Then I build, and we build, and we build together.” This is where, she adds, “improv becomes a useful skill in teaching democratic teamwork.” “It’s teaching people to work in a way where I’m respecting your whole humanity and all of the good and the bad you bring to a group,” she says. “Innovation comes from that instead of just defaulting to the managerial model.” We’re all familiar with — or have been victims of — that managerial model. Or maybe we’ve been that bossy person who takes charge. Edenfield instead wants her students to be practiced saying, “‘Hold on. Let’s see what kind of ideas people have.’ But that means everyone else has to step up.” When looking at improv as a democratic teaching tool, Edenfield notes that the technique comes with its own “good-orbad-news-first?” question. The bad news? It’s unpredictable. The good news? Well ... “Improve creates a constantly changing atmosphere,” said Edenfield. “It’s dynamic and never predictable.” Recently, she shared her techniques in a workshop attended by faculty members at Utah Valley University in Orem. The initial groaning (as in “Oh man, I hate group work”) soon became, she says, “‘Oh, I see how this works now. I have to build on what you say, but I can’t think too far ahead.’ Like you can’t have in your mind what you’re going to do before it gets to you, because it can change before it gets to you,” she said. Like improv in Edenfield’s courses, problems are seldom predictable. “You can’t always hold on to control of the problem,” she said. “Sometimes it gets away and you have to figure something else out. You learn that through doing improv.”

Technical Communication : Finding and avoiding bias in everyday writing


echnical communications is so much more than the small print in the smartphone manual you’ve tossed in a drawer. Indeed, technical communications is the language that sweeps along the details of our daily lives. Think of job descriptions, for instance, or loan papers, and so much more. It’s everywhere, and because it’s such an undercurrent of our lives as citizens, the technical communication/rhetoric program in the English Department has placed an emphasis on ethics and social Justice. USU’s program is one of the few tech comm programs in the country that takes such a focus. “It’s shaping language in a way that’s ethical and responsible and that creates the world we want to live in,” said assistant professor Avery Edenfield. The specialty of technical communication is primarily transactional and practical. Compare that with other writing classes in the English Department, such as poetry and fiction that often zero in on self-expression. On the other hand, adds Edenfield, who holds a Ph.D. in professional writing, technical communication’s focus is on the audience. “It’s writing to get stuff done,” adds Edenfield, “which is how I like to think of it.” That’s how it’s seen by junior Jonathan

Toronto, a student of Edenfield’s. A double major in philosophy and English, Toronto is headed to pre-law and looking ahead to a time, he says, when “I’ll need to work as a team with clients,” not to mention judges and other attorneys, he adds. The aspect of social justice, ethics, and human rights is doubly important because of the double way in which we use technical communication. Its tone is loud and flashy in instances like business social media. It’s a much less obvious voice in the boring chatter of everyday life. “There can be bias even in the most mundane things,” says Edenfield, who tells of a colleague who looks at mortgage documents “and the ways that can keep people out of owning a home.” USU’s technical communication program — offered as a major for undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students — features a faculty of nationally recognized instructors. Joining Edenfield are Jared Colton, assistant professor in technical writing; and Rebecca Walton, Rylish Moeller, and Keith Grant-Davie, all associate professors of technical communication and rhetoric. Colton centers his research on the intersection of ethics and politics within technical communications, which often makes its way to social media. He’s published in many scholarly journals,

Jared Colton

but this spring he’s gained fame with an interview published in the pop culture magazine Wired. Colton is quoted as an expert on ethics in an article titled “Is it OK to Dox a Nazi? Antifascists Think So.” (‟Doxing,” by the way, is hacking individuals’ private information and publishing any salacious details. Keep up!) Walton recently accomplished the difficult task of earning “best paper” awards from the two primary technical writing associations, Association for Teachers of Technical Writing and the Society of Technical Communication. She’s been named as the 2016 English Teacher of the Year and 2015 Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year for CHaSS. Moeller focuses on the timely topic of communication in the computer game culture and design. As he explains, “I study human agency within cultural domains dominated by emergent technical discourse, especially the consumer electronics industry.” This includes everything from computer game advertising to congressional hearings on the computer game industry. Grant-Davie has extensively researched, among other areas, technical communication used in online education. He’s also fascinated by the rhetoric of apology, another timely topic in our culture. He works primarily with graduate students.

Rylish Moeller

Rebecca Walton

Keith Grant-Davie Technical Communication



Popular MSW program draws social-work students to classes statewide


he Master’s of Social Work program stretches to every corner of the state. Derrik Tollefson ticks off: Blanding, Moab, Uintah Basin, Tooele, Kaysville, Logan, Price, and Brigham City.

Kinsey Fryer, BSW and MSW, USU-Brigham City

“Everywhere from the bottom of the state to the top of the state and east to west,” says Tollefson, head of the Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology. The MSW program has such a reach because social work itself is a need that reaches into every community. Here’s the explanation point: This year’s MSW applications broke all records. Indeed, the number of those seeking slots outnumbered those available by more than two to one. Most telling, he said, is that every student who’s graduated from the program since it began in 2008 (and who wants to be working in the field) is now working.

Adrienne Berrett, BSW, USU-Tooele

CHaSS pizzazz from regional campuses Courses in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences can be found at all of USU’s 33 campuses and sites statewide. Seven campuses house instructors and professors. This regular feature celebrates the great work being done regionally.

Paula Jones, MSW, USU-Uintah Basin

Melissa Yuhas, BSW and MSW, USU-Moab

Photos by Levi Sim

Many applicants for the regional programs are already employed in a social work capacity in their hometowns, “and they want to take their career to the next level,” Tollefson said. Graduates generally seek to become licensed clinical social workers, he said, adding, “The MSW unlocks a great deal of doors for folks,” especially with advancement in administration and management. Those applying for the MSW vary from newly minted undergraduates to mothers returning to the workforce, as well as those who “who are social workers at heart but got distracted into a career in business or something else.” In fact, those on the roster in the part-

time MSW program tend to be older, non-traditional students, he added. “They reach a life point and they realize, ‘I’ve only got so many years left in me, and I want to actually be doing what is fulfilling to me.’ So they’re coming back to get their MSW.” They’re also encouraged by a growing demand for social workers, said Tollefson. He expects that to continue as those in “industry and government realize that social workers can perform a number of different useful and costsavings functions.” Social work programs follow the cohort model, said Tollefson. A group, or cohort, of students is admitted and advances together until their graduation at the end of three years. The next cohort program begins fall 2017; the application deadline was in January. All three social work programs require a bachelor’s. They are: Part-time MSW program at most regional campuses: This three-year program accepts about 70 applicants statewide. It’s designed for working students with classes held one evening a week. Tollefson said this program was recently expanded to Blanding and Moab. “We’d wondered if the program would be sustainable in those parts of the state,” he said. “And yes, we’ve had very strong interest and enrollments.” Traditional full-time two-year MSW program at most regional campuses: Successful applicants will have a background in social sciences or behavioral sciences and some experience working in the human services.

One-year advanced-standing program: An accelerated program that allows those who have bachelor’s degrees in social work to earn their MSW in less than a calendar year. About 15 Advanced Standing students are admitted to the full-time Logan program every other year. Beginning in fall 2017, this program will be available to qualified students in the three-year regional program. As Tollefson reviewed this year’s applications, he was struck by the widely felt desire just to be of help. “If there’s a universal common thread it’s that they want a profession that focuses on improving the wellbeing of others,” he said. Many of the application essays described “obstacles they’ve overcome in their lives that built within them a great empathy for others who may be suffering,” he said. “Also, many of them have had their own positive experiences with social work professionals, and they want to pass that on.” Although the next cohort application period isn’t for a while, Tollefson suggested those interested begin honing their portfolio early. “To be competitive, you need to think ahead about who you’ll be having write your reference letters and about demonstrating through a resume some experience in the human services,” he said. “Social work is tough, and people need to be prepared for it,” he added. “We need to know when they apply that they have some idea of what they’re getting themselves into.” Branching Out: Social Work



What makes people obey our laws?



What makes people want to obey the law? Societies where people follow the law tend to be orderly and prosperous; in the absence of the rule of law, chaos can ensue.  As former U.S. Vice President Hubert Humphrey once observed, “There are not enough jails, not enough police, not enough courts to enforce a law that is not supported by the people.”  It is a complex question indeed to ask who supports which laws.  However, we can demonstrate that attitudes favorable to complying with the law generally tend to roll together.  In some joint research with my colleague Jeff Yates (at Binghamton University), we posed a set of questions about general attitudes about obeying the law of a representative sample of nearly 1,000 Americans.   The results are interesting.

What new knowledge are we gaining from CHaSS professors’ recent research? Essay by Damon Cann

By Dr. Damon Cann

In general, we find most people place a priority on legal compliance. For example, we asked people to tell us whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “If the government outlawed something I enjoy doing, I would stop because it’s just important to obey the law,” we found only 28 percent of people disagreed with the statement.   In an effort to give people a socially desirable way to express attitudes that were less sympathetic toward obedience, we offered the statement, “Following the law isn’t very important as long as you do what you think is right.”  It turns out that fewer than 25 percent of respondents agreed with that statement, suggesting that for a large majority of people, following the law remains important even if some aspects of it don’t fall exactly in line

with their personal views of what is right. While we find that the vast majority of Americans seem to express general agreement that following the law is important, there is meaningful variation in the extent to which following the law is a priority. We formed an “obedience index” using several questions (including the two above) and then looked to see if we could find differences between people with high obedience scores and those with low obedience scores.  To some extent, what we didn’t find is as interesting as what we did find.  One often presumes that harsher punishments probably increase the priority people place on obedience; we found no evidence that citizens in states with stricter sentencing laws or higher incarceration rates are more likely to express pro-obedience sentiments.  We also found no effects of education, race, or gender.  What did matter?  Individuals who see the court system as being legitimate, fair, and even-handed are more likely to express a willingness

Individuals who see the court system as being legitimate, fair, and evenhanded are more likely to express a willingness to obey the laws enforced by that system. to obey the laws enforced by that system. Also, individuals who had served on a jury and had direct first-hand experience with the justice system were more likely to express pro-obedience sentiments.  If the United States is to preserve its strong tradition of the rule of law and the legal compliance, this research sug-

gests that the key place to start is by preserving the integrity of the court system. While many measures might be appropriate, our evidence suggests that the direct (but sometimes dreaded) experience that comes with serving on a jury may be among the best ways to boost support for the rule of law.

DOCTOR WHO? Damon Cann is a professor of political science and has served since 2013 as co-director of operations for the USU Institute of Governments & Politics. His book Voters’ Verdicts earned the 2016 Virginia Gray Best Book Award for the best book on state government (with coauthor Chris Bonneau). His most recent scholarly book is These Estimable Courts (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Inquiring Minds


tural studies perspective, said Brad Hall, LPCS department head. The refereed articles, he adds, “give insight into the social and political implications of a wide variety of cultural expression, including novels, poetry, and more.” The editorial board includes over 40 professors of Spanish from around the world. The Winter 2017 issue was recently published. Read more at Decimononica.org.

Spanish professor J.P. Spicer-Escalante founded and edits the 15-year-old Decimononica journal.

Decimononica, journal-based exploration of 19th-century Latin American culture, hits 15-year mark

Decimononica, a Spanish-language online journal that explores Latin American and Spanish literature and culture in the 19th century, has hit a milestone with its 15th anniversary. The official title of this scholarly, refereed and international journal is Decimononica: The Journal of Nineteenth Century Hispanic Cultural Production (Decimonónica: Revista de Producción Cultural Hispánica Decimononica). J.P. Spicier-Escalante, a professor of Spanish in the Department of Languages, Philosophy, and Communication Studies, founded the journal in 2003 and serves as its managing editor. The journal publishes high-quality articles grounded in either a literary or cul-


Department Briefs

Producers of UPR’s award winning original series, ‘Objectified’, are Ted Twinting and Kerry Bringhurst (front), Dani Hayes and Kristen Munson (rear).

UPR continues original serieslength programming after success of ‘Objectified’

ing and other media dictate the standards of what’s considered feminine beauty, was funded in part by the Utah Women’s Giving Circle, a Salt-Lake City-based assembly of “everyday philanthropists.” Inspired by the success of “Objectified,” UPR is expanding its production of original, multi-part radio series that, says Bringhurst, seek to change the conversation about current issues. This includes “Utah Works,” a series of personal, local stories about careers and working in Utah. “Utah Works” is backed by “The Way We Worked,” a traveling exhibition — which stopped at the Hyrum City Museum — along with such partners as Utah Humanities and the Smithsonian Institution. Research is also proceeding for a new series on opioid use in Utah, as well as one on “the challenges and opportunities of being a modern-day immigrant to the United States,” said Bringhurst.

from a “medium” program to a “large” program. And numbers for the fall 2017 semester look to be the highest on record, said Lt. Col. Steven Smith, professor of Aerospace Studies and commander of ROTC Detachment 860. AFROTC has emerged from its lowest enrollment point in recent years — 59 cadets in 2007 — to a spring 2017 roster of 127 cadets. “That’s as high as we’ve been in recorded memory,” said Smith. While a detachment is classified as medium if it has between 55 and 85 cadets, a large detachment includes 86 or more cadets, said Smith. “Once we can demonstrate to the Air Force that we have consistently high numbers and we’re not just spiking one year, we can be reclassified,” he said. The U.S. Army ROTC is also on a growing track, with its enrollment at a five-year high.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni named USU’s Center for the Study of American Constitutionalism as an “Oasis of Excellence,” joining a roster of institutes such as Columbia University’s Center on Law and Liberty, the Georgetown (University) Institute for the Study of Markets and Ethics and the Center for Liberal Arts and Free Institutions at University of California, Los Angeles. Most recently, the center, in March 2017, hosted the Jefferson-Hamilton Debates, which drew in 28 students university wide.

The series, which has been picked up and aired by other public radio stations in Utah, is also being hailed as an example of how public radio stations “can work with nonprofits to educate communities and work together to address a myriad of issues,” said news director Kerry Bringhurst. The series, exploring how advertis-

The very-hip CHaSS branded notebooks are designed by Logan-based Denik, internationally known maker of trendy notebooks. Its co-founder and creative director, Tyler Tolson, is a graduate of communications studies in the Department of Languages, Philosophy, and Communications Studies.

Anthony Peacock, department head and the center’s founder, noted that in our current divisive political climate, such buzzwords as the common good, liberty, and capitalism are often engulfed in partisan rhetoric. “That’s one of the reasons we created the center — to defend these ideas,” he said. Read more about the center at http://liberty.usu.edu/.

To hear these programs, visit upr.org. UPR is broadcast in communities across the state.

Jason Gilmore, assistant professor of communication studies, received the 2017 USU Diversity Award.

Gilmore’s inclusive efforts win him university-wide diversity award

Months after the successful airing of Utah Public Radio’s original series, “Objectified: More than a Body,” the good news continues. The multi-part series, produced and reported by UPR staff members, has been recognized by the Utah chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, earning first place in the documentary category, as well as the general feature category.

shell jackets and notebooks. In the future, additional CHaSS merchandise will be available, as well as merchandise from the college’s departments.

Political Science head Anthony Peacock founded and now directs the Center for the Study of American Constitutionalism. Under the leadership of Lt. Col. Steven Smith, professor of Aerospace Studies, Air Force ROTC Detachment 860 has seen tremendous growth.

Booming enrollments spurs status upgrade for the USU’s AFROTC

The number of cadets joining the U.S Air Force ROTC program has grown so much that the U.S. Air Force has upgraded Utah State University’s cadet wing

Political science program lauded for defense of constitutionalism and other American ideals The Political Science Department’s Center for the Study of American Constitutionalism has received national recognition for its commitment to the free exchange of ideas on campuses, defining liberty and advancing free markets.

Grant Bess, 2017-18 senator for CHaSS, looking sharp in his new CHaSS-branded jacket.

Storefront now branded items



If you’d like to announce that you’re a CHaSS fan, the college has a new site to buy college “swag.” A new storefront at http://chass.usu. edu/shop offers CHaSS-branded soft-

Jason Gilmore has earned Utah State University’s annual Diversity Award for Faculty. Gilmore, an assistant professor in Languages, Philosophy, and Communication Studies, “clearly models behavior that nourishes acceptance of differences and strives to enhance relations among everyone,” according to the award description. The “acceptance of differences” is indeed the goal for Gilmore, who has created a curriculum based on providing students the tools necessary to effectively and respectfully navigate issues of human difference, diversity, and inclusion in their Department Briefs


personal and professional lives. His many examples of hands-on work with his students include the summer 2016 research journey to Brazil with 12 students, a 10-day pilgrimage through the Deep South to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” freedom march in Selma, and the producing of three radio series for Utah Public Radio on civil rights and intercultural understanding.

to include a small cafe overlooking 500 North as well as a luscious recreation of the backyard and orchard of Swenson's youth, which was later to appear in her poetry. The process is supported by the Swenson family, which appreciates a place to establish the family’s legacy, that began with Swenson's Swedish immigrant parents.

Bennion Teachers’ Workshop

New push for Swenson House, inspired by the renowned poet's family home

A long-anticipated plan to rebuild the May Swenson House is gaining ground with new design plans for the structure. Fittingly, the news comes as we celebrate the 104th anniversary of May Swenson’s birthday. May 28 is also commemorated statewide as May Swenson Day. The famed American poet, a 1933 Aggie graduate, grew up in a house at the base of Old Main Hill. But the big, cozy, brick craftsman-style home was demolished some time in the 1970s. The proposed reimagining of the Swenson home on the original site would include space for such writing activities as poetry symposiums. Planners hope


Department Briefs

Co-directors of the event are Susan Anderson, senior lecturer and associate director of the USU Writing Center, and Jessica Rivera-Mueller, an assistant professor of English. Other USU faculty and guest speakers will present the latest scholarship on the literature of protest. This year’s keynote speaker is Margaret Whitt, civil rights educator and professor emerita of the University of Denver. She’ll present a free, public lecture at 9 a.m, June 26, in Room 207 of the Eccles Conference Center.

Susan Anderson (left) and Jessica RiveraMueller (right) co-direct the upcoming Bennion Teachers’ Workshop.

Poet May Swenson on the steps of her family home at the base of Old Main Hill, mid 1930s.

first Dean of Women. Her generous funding also support USU’s Center for Women and Gender.

Workshops are designed for K-12 teachers. The focus, according to Dr. Evelyn Funda, MWC director and a CHaSS associate dean, is on giving teachers practical tools they can use in the classroom.

as second lieutenants as they begin their professional careers as Army officers. Among those officers is Caroline Bourgeois, who has been recognized as a Distinguished Military Graduate. This honor recognizes the top 10 percent of the approximately 5,000 cadets throughout the country. With so much forward movement, the corps will see one loss: commander Maj. Jon Kenworthy, who has been on loan from the Utah National Guard, completes his three-year duty call with the ROTC. He will be assigned to the Joint Force Headquarters Utah National Guard where he’ll work with the G4, the supply management organization responsible for all logistic support for the state national guard.

Peru’ving Their Skills Students try out applied anthropology well before their ‘class’ in Peru The preparations for a summer excursion to Peru took an unexpected detour in April when a small coastal town in Peru, the students’ destination, was devastated by floods. “These floods washed away homes, cut off all sources of fresh water and food, and completely upended residents’ lives,” said Anthropology Professor Bonnie Glass-Coffin. Within days, USU anthropology students had mounted a donation campaign that raised more than $3,000 via crowdsourcing to provide direct relief to Huanchaco district, Peru. This included emergency and other life-sustaining supplies for about 120 adults and children from the Sol Naciente II neighborhood in the town of El Milagro. Working through a fellow anthropology professor, Glass-Coffin said the donations “went immediately into the hands of the people who need it most.”

continues to promote

discussion on democracy

about a dozen, are preparing to accompany Glass-Coffin to Peru as part of the Ethnographic Field School she founded in 2001. The May 29-July 1 expedition will allow students to learn and practice skills of applied anthropology. This field, said Glass-Coffin, “uses the methods and theories of anthropology to help empower communities to solve real-world problems.” The impromptu fund-raising campaign was, in fact, a perfect example of applied anthropology, said Glass-Coffin. “What makes this donation campaign different is that it is all about applying anthropology to empower these communities,” she said. The travelers will be joined by temporary anthropology lecturer Michelle Grocke. Grocke’s specialty is development anthropology and especially food security. Among the classes she teaches are Global Health and Nutritional Anthropology.

The undergraduate students, totaling

In 1993 when Ione S. Bennion endowed the annual Bennion Teachers’ Workshop, she was prescient about the ongoing necessity for conversation on such topics as democracy and the dangers that threaten it. The Bennion Teachers’ Workshop for the Perpetuation of Democratic Principles is hosted by the Mountain West Center for Regional Studies, housed in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The 2017 workshop, set for June 26-30, will explore “Literature of Protest: Civil Rights, Democracy, Justice.”

Army ROTC sees large increase in enrollment, enthusiam

Bennion (1908-1997) established the event to encourage participants “to explore new themes in their teaching and writing with democratic principles in mind.” Bennion was tireless in her support of democracy, contributing to the adoption of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and serving as USU’s

The academic year ends with 93 cadets in the program, a 37 percent increase over the previous year, said Capt. Michael Andersen, assistant professor of Military Science. That number is expected to grow to 100 by fall 2017, he said.

Army ROTC cadets practice life-saving skills during a January 2017 training session.

Utah State University Army ROTC has grown in enrollment and spirit to its highest level in five years.

This year, six cadets were commissioned

Images from a small neighborhood in Peru’s Huanchaco district that received immediate funds for emergency supplies following massive flooding in April. The donation campaign was mounted by USU anthropology students who will be doing research in that area this summer. You can follow the adventures of these anthropologists-in-training at usuinperu.wordpress.com Department Briefs




Jonathan and Julie Bullen, Salt Lake City The Bullens are applauded and appreciated for their generosity, especially in cementing the endowed Leonard J. Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture. Both earned their undergraduate degrees from USU, with Jonathan Bullen moving on to a career as an investor in commercial real estate. Julie Bullen is a licensed clinical social worker who helped re-establish the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at USU.

Garth and Marie Jones, Salt Lake City Garth Jones (political science, 1947) traveled the world as a professor and consultant in his specialty of public policy and Third-World development. Marie traveled alongside, making her own mark. As just one example, she taught the first co-ed course at the University of the Punjab in India. Now, the Garth and Marie Jones and Family Scholarship encourages disadvantaged students who also seek public service careers − and adventures just as brilliant.

Outstanding Graduate Mentor

Eddy Berry

Professor of Sociology

Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor

Lecturer of the Year

Stephen VanGeem

Lecturer of Sociology

The Ed Glatfelter Faculty Service Award

Francois Dengah

Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology


Dan McInerney

Professor of History

Faculty Undergraduate Adviser of the Year

Christy Glass

Professor of Sociology

Professor of the Year for USU-Tooele

Robert Mueller

Associate Professor of History

Teacher of the Year Ravi Gupta,

Professor of Religious Studies

Researcher of the Year Courtney Flint Professor of Sociology

Giraffe Award

Distinguished Lifetime Service Award

Given each year to a faculty or staff member who “sticks his or her neck out” in pursuit of better teaching or research or to improve college organization or programs. Lopez Gonzalez was recognized for his successful efforts in building bridges between the Cache Valley community and its growing community of immigrants.

Ross Peterson, Professor of History Emeritus

Crescencio Lopez Gonzalez, Assistant Professor of Spanish

Ross Peterson, was presented with the Distinguished Lifetime Service Award. This is the first-ever such award and will now be known as the annual Ross Peterson Lifetime Service Award. CHaSS Awards and Honors



Students and staff receiving CHaSS awards 2017 College Valedictorian

Graduate Instructor of the Year

Kelci Peterson

Sherena Huntsman

International Studies


Scholar of the Year

Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher

Erica Hawvermale

Elizabeth Thomas



Doctoral Student Researcher of the Year

Legacy Award

Sun Y. Jeon

Tina Haskins



Master’s Student Researcher of the Year

Kiwanis Award

Jacqueline Keating

Kaleb Esplin


Communication Studies

True Blue Award (Outstanding Employee of the Year)

Light of Old Main Award (Outstanding Employee of the Year)

Natalie Smoot

Monica Ingold

Dean’s Office

Graduating Undergraduates


Reach him at (435) 797-4473 or justin.barton@usu.edu.




33 Countries of Origin Represented

37 Students Going on a LPCS STUDY ABROAD


Please reach out to Justin Barton, the college’s liaison with alumni. He would be happy to identify nearby alumni, help coordinate a gathering, and, for those with good taste, arrange for Aggie ice cream.

Enrolled Undergraduates


Do you want to get together with Aggies in your area to network or socialize?



2016-2017 CHaSStistics Like-minded Aggies


Enrolled Graduate Students

Most Popular Major

Social Work



(if you combine all emphases)

Growth in 10-year-old museum program shatters all expectations


visit to the Museum of Anthropology in Old Main will recall the museums of your childhood. Ancient pottery under thick glass. Large, spinning globes. Garlic-flavored crickets for young visitors. (Granted, that’s a more recent addition.) The large umbrella that is the definition of “museum,” however, also pulls in zoos and libraries, even institutions without a single collection like a children’s museum. “Museum” also covers a myriad of careers, most of them not requiring an Indiana Jones fedora. There’s exhibit creation, conservation of artifacts, book keeping. Oh, and what’s the name of the person who manages volunteer docents? Patience, perhaps.

said Molly Cannon, museum curator and program director. Since the Museum Studies program’s launch in 2007, it has awarded 41 certificates through 2016. This year, 44 students — more than the total of the last decade — are enrolled. Forget cupcakes, bring in the cake and candles! The program’s appeal, said Cannon, is that it attracts students from throughout USU’s campus, although most do major in anthropology, history, or art. “We’re open to any student,” she said.

So it should come as no surprise that the Anthropology Museum’s Museum Studies Certificate pulls in classes in accounting, chemistry, and even beginning acting.

The certificate coursework is adjusted to each student’s interest, said Cannon. So, if one’s dream is to be a conservator and restore pieces of the past, the certificate program allows students “to load up on chemistry,” she said. For those who want to curate in an art museum, art-history courses can count.

This year the program, the only one of its kind in the state of Utah, commemorates its 10th anniversary. Birthday cupcakes have already been snapped up, but even more delicious is the program’s success,

The certificate is more than a minor but a bit less than a major, said Cannon. While a minor requires 12 to 15 courses, the Museum Studies certificate requires 24 credits, “so it’s more focused,” she said.

To be a museologist (yes, that’s a real word), “we need courses in administration,” said Cannon, “something that gets students experienced working with budgets, with people, leadership and technical and professional writing.” In addition, she said, “We want them to have experience working with objects and exhibits, as well as interpretations and public outreach.” Beyond that, the program requires two internships. One of those is in the Anthropology Museum itself, providing “practical, hands-on experience,” she said. These interns are busy mounting exhibits, writing outreach programs, sorting through computer databases. The second internship is in the student’s field of interest. Cannon says there’s plenty of need for graduates “with a strong theoretical and experiential foundation.” Utah, for instance, is home to more than 250 museums.

How does a museum certificate open doors? Grads tell us Museum Studies is ref lected in writer’s historical quest By Sarah Lee

I can’t believe it’s been 10 years already. I took the class while I was working as the Anthropology Museum’s collections photographer, so I guess you can say I got double the dose of museum studies! Both were really valuable experiences for me. I especially loved redesigning the Great Basin Exhibit with my team for my Museum Studies class. Sarah Lee


Museum Certificate

Since graduating in 2009, I moved with my family to Maryland where I volunteered at a local museum. I served on their museum board and trained them in using PastPerfect museum software. (I learned this museum software in my job at the museum). My family and I participate in WWII reenactments where we teach about 1940s

education department to make the zoo more hands-on for diverse guests. In any case, it was literally the lesson we had on one particular day that started this.

Cub and Boy Scouts and wartime ration cooking, among other things. In 2015 I published a historical novel, The War Between Us, about a Korean American’s experience during WWII.  I homeschool our children and teach at our homeschool co-op. I’m planning on teaching a museum exhibits class to the older kids, and I will definitely be drawing on what I learned in my studies. Additionally, I keep up a history blog where I write about WWII wartime cooking, making historical clothing, and reviews of museums that I visit.

Emily Plumley, Hogle Zoo’s Special Needs Programs Coordinator, displays a camouflaged owl (take a second look!).

I’m always on the hunt for unique and interesting ways that museums present their collections. Completing two exhibits at the Museum of Anthropology (Great Basin and The Fibers of Inheritance) start to finish has given me a realistic perspective and better appreciation of the work that goes into creating a successful learning experience.

Grad welcomes those with disabilities to Hogle Zoo

Earning the certificate itself was a wonderful addition to my history degree. I’ve worked in museums since I was a teenager, so it was the perfect fit for me personally. I had a young baby during that time, and the flexibility offered by the certification program was a huge bonus.

Aside from my bachelor’s, my Museum Studies certification has proven to be the most useful part of my education. I completed a bachelor’s in conservation and restoration ecology, a French language minor and my museum certification. Because of my interests, I was hired to work at Utah’s Hogle Zoo as a seasonal employee to run the summer camp program. (I should mention that a zoo is still considered a museum institution. We just have a living collection.) The training I had in interpretation helped me the most at my job at that time. Anyone can learn the basic facts about an animal, but teaching them to other people is a different skill set.

Overall, my certificate helped teach me to look at museums in a broader way, not just as a cool place to visit to learn something, but as an organization as a whole and how it functions. I’m very proud of my certificate and the work I was able to do at the museum. I value all the things I learned along the way and enjoy being able to use what I learned to help my family and others in my community.

Sarah Creviston Lee’s historical novel, The War Between Us, received the 2016 editor’s choice award from the Historical Novel Society. Visit her blog at www.history-preserved.com.

By Emily Plumley

At USU, we studied different issues facing museums every day. One day the topic was guests with disabilities. I had already been hired to work at the zoo running the summer camps for 2014 and 2015. That day was the first time that I thought about people with diverse needs visiting zoos, and I began to think about the barriers that they face in these kinds of institutions. I felt like I had the resources in its

In early 2015, I launched the first class specifically designed for students with autism. I also created classes for people who were blind or had low vision. I planned for four classes that year with a maximum of 40 people. By October 2015, I had taught 16 classes and more than 160 students of varying abilities, both onsite and offsite (usually at area schools). We also won Community Partner of the Year from the Epilepsy Association of Utah during the first year of our program. In July 2015, the zoo created a full-time position for me as the Special Needs Programs Coordinator. It is a unique position in the zoo field. No other zoo has an employee dedicated towards special education. I also train our staff and volunteers on how to better serve people with disabilities. I expanded the program in 2016 and taught more than 1,200 students with diverse needs, even hosting White Cane Day for the Utah School for the Deaf and Blind. I teach all ages and abilities, including a therapy-based preschool class series. I work with a local school for students with low-functioning autism to have their high school, aged students come to the zoo to get a science lesson and practice their own job skills by volunteering here. In January 2017, I launched a program for refugees, and we work with two area community centers that run after school programs for refugee children. I am working to expand the program to reach more diverse and non-traditional zoo audiences.  While I needed to have a bachelor’s to get this job, the reality is that my museum certificate is the only thing I studied that actually relates to what I do. It is the reason that I still have a job here, otherwise my (internship) hours would have run out almost two years ago.  Museum Certificate


Office of the Dean 0700 Old Main Hill Logan, UT 84322-0700

Want to be a world explorer?

All you need is the right passport. Fortunately, that passport can be found at this summer’s World Explorers Club sponsored by the USU Museum of Anthropology. The club is part of the museum’s Family First Saturdays, a monthly program that brings children ages 3 to 12 and their families together to explore a fascinating topic through arts, crafts, and music. Young participants will receive a backpack as well as a passport to collect stamps from every stop. The backpack will help young adventurers carry their treasures home.

ALL EVENTS ARE FREE For more info contact: USU Museum of Anthropology 435-797-7545 anthromuseum@usu.edu

Non-Profit Org US Postage PAID Utah State University

Profile for USU Libraries

LIBERALIS, Summer 2017  

Utah State University

LIBERALIS, Summer 2017  

Utah State University

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